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What Can I Do To Resolve An Identity Fraud Situation?

I am a victim of identity fraud; the thief opened credit card accounts at two banks using my name. One of the banks has already cleared my name with the credit bureaus, but the other bank has made no attempt to even return my calls or answer any of my many letters. Believe it or not, they even sent me a pre-approved loan of $35,000 just this month! So, what's my next step? Write the Federal Trade Commission and the Attorney General?

There are several things you should do, both to handle the fraud and to deal with this hard-to-reach bank. You're absolutely right about contacting the FTC and your state's Attorney General; if nothing else, doing so will help them to better understand and track identity theft-which in the long run will help our legal system better fight the problem.

Also, the FTC has established a complaint center for consumers who believe that one or more of their means of identification have been assumed, stolen, or otherwise unlawfully acquired. The complaint center will refer you to the appropriate law enforcement agencies in your area. You can contact the FTC's complaint center by sending an email from their Web site at or calling (202) FTC-HELP. Or, you can write to Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, CRC-240, Washington, D.C. 20580.

Getting the FTC's referral to appropriate local law enforcement will be of particular value to you, because one tactic for dealing with the bank that seems to be ignoring you is to send them a copy of an official police report or other proof that you have taken legal action relating to this fraudulent account. Doing so will support your claim that the account is fraudulent, and may get their attention.

At the same time, you should contact the three major credit bureaus to report that you have been a victim of fraud, request a copy of your credit report (you are entitled to a free one because of the fraud), and ask that they add a fraud alert to your credit file. This fraud alert would include a statement requesting that credit grantors not issue new credit in your name without calling you (at a number you specify) first. This will prevent you from obtaining instant credit, but that's a small convenience to give up in exchange for knowing the thief can't get instant credit either. You can also file disputes of the fraudulent information (stressing that the account is fraudulent) with the credit bureaus, which will then contact the bank to verify the information. If the bank ignores them too, the information will be removed from your credit report. You can find information about how to do all of these things at the Web sites for Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union.

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